The West End
July 1, 2008
The west end has long been the downtown peninsula’s bastion of (semi-) affordable housing for wandering Australians and kids sick of dorm life, not to mention senior citizens and struggling artists. But recent months have seen an avalanche of evictions as building owners renovate apartments and jack up rates. Tthe Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation found in its 2007 rental-market survey that the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the Wwest Eend hit $1,000 for the first time (up 12 percent from 2005). And those are protected rental rates; landlords can only hike rent modestly for continuing tenants—3.7 percent in 2008. A survey of the classifieds proves that renters new to the market will grudgingly pay $1,300 for a one-bedroom in the rapidly gentrifying enclave.
In April, NDP housing critic Diane Thorne introduced a private member’s bill to amend the Residential Tenancy Act so that renters evicted because of renovations would be assured the right to return to their homes at their original rental rates. If landlords are forced to honour long-standing leases, “necessary renovations” might quickly drop off.